Advantages and Resource Potential of Marine Renewables
The marine environment covers more than two-thirds of the earths’ surface and encompasses an abundance of energy. This abundance alone has provided clear motivation for developers to seek ways of capturing this power and they have found that this is a far from straightforward process. Each resource has particular distinctions, however it is clear that designing devices and infrastructure to operate in an inherently energetic marine environment is challenging.
Although technically challenging, the advantages to marine energy are numerous, and can include additional resource, project scale, visibility, land use, proximity to transmission and increased predictability amongst others.
Studies have shown that the level of the marine renewable resources in the US is significant, with combined resources and existing technology able to provide nearly 6000TWh. To put this in perspective, the total annual US electricity demand is approximately 4000TWh. These are impressive numbers, however, it is much more important to appreciate that the magnitude of the resource becomes irrelevant if the cost of generation is too high. At present the cost of power from marine renewables is only marginally competitive with conventional carbon-based generation. Incentives for CO2 free generation are required to enable these types of projects to initially enter the market, allowing for development of technology and ultimate reduction in cost of energy.